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The Coronavirus lockdown is affecting people in many different ways, but it can be particularly difficult for people with learning disabilities, autism and complex needs. They often need routine and structure, which has been disrupted as we’re no longer able to go out and about, visiting the usual places, doing the usual things. People with learning disabilities may not fully understand why their life has changed, or may not be able to verbalise their frustrations. We are supporting them in various ways:

Enhancing understanding

Everyone is different so we are supporting all of our service users according to their own needs and abilities. This can involve using non-verbal communication techniques such as Makaton, TEACHH or the PECS picture exchange system to explain the situation and what we need to do to stay safe.

Well-being

We’re being creative and introducing new structures and routines to keep everyone calm, entertained, safe and happy. We’ve been able to welcome back Martin the Music Man, whose music sessions enrich the lives of the service users in many ways. He’s been singing and playing his guitar in the gardens of the homes, while maintaining a social distance.

We’ve also had several birthdays to celebrate recently so we’ve made them special with garden parties, pamper sessions or parties in the homes with balloons, cakes, treats and gifts.

Trusted relationships

Many of our service users with learning disabilities have been with us for years, so we have a deep understanding of their likes, dislikes, needs and preferences. They have developed trusted relationships with our care support workers, which means that we are better able to support them in difficult times.

Feedback from families

We are also keeping in touch with their loved ones and are very grateful for the feedback we have received from families. Here are some examples:

“We spoke on the telephone this morning and I am writing to you to reiterate what I said to you on the ‘phone…

“There was a feature on this morning’s TV News about the very difficult time many autistic people and their carers are having during the Covid-19 lockdown.  As I watched it, I was reflecting on how very fortunate we are that our son is in your care and that he is being so well looked after and even more importantly, kept safe.  We are truly thankful for your care and for the brilliant work your staff at all levels are doing at during these difficult times. Please circulate this letter to your staff or post it in a prominent position so that all can read it…

Dear Friends

I just wanted to write to you as a parent of one of your residents to say how very grateful I am for the care you are providing for my son and the other residents during these difficult times.  I know you are doing your very best not just to care for our loved ones but to provide them with as varied and stimulating a time as possible.  I know that, like all of us, you are concerned about your own safety and well-being of yourselves and your families and this makes us doubly grateful for the excellent work you are doing.

I hope that you and your families remain well and look forward to being able to resume my regular visits.”

 

“Dear Jane [Service Manager]

I’m writing to say how thankful I am for the care my son has received while having another chest infection. He’s fine now thanks to your great staff. It must be so hard to keep everything germ free.

What really prompted me to contact you is the great idea of the cafe/tuck shop in the garden. That must make all the difference for everyone to go outside in the sun with their little coupons and buy something. I’m sure there are many challenges with everyone inside. Anyway thanks to all of you for a great job.”

We would like to thank all of the families who have sent in messages of support or gifts, and of course, thank our wonderful team of managers and staff. They are being amazingly positive, creative and dedicated, working hard to support our service users with learning disabilities, complex needs and acquired brain injury in these difficult times.

 



In supporting service users with learning disabilities and acquired brain injury, we are used to helping people face challenges and finding ways to overcome them. This means that our brilliant management team and care staff are well-placed to meet the challenges that the Coronavirus is posing right now. They are finding solutions to reduce the risks in our homes while maintaining the quality of life and well-being that we strive to achieve for the people in our care.

We have always enabled our service users to lead happy, healthy lives and fulfil their potential by providing person-centred care. We recognise that each person has individual needs and adapts to situations in different ways. Some people are finding the current situation particularly difficult as they require routine and stability. We are supporting all of our service users with clear communication and reassurance so that they understand, and are not fearful of the changes we are making. We are doing what we can to maintain a sense of normality and structure within each home, while changing activities to keep everyone safe.

Reducing Risk

These are some of the steps we are taking to reduce risk:

  • Cleanliness within the homes is always important, and we have stepped up our cleaning and disinfecting protocols to increase safety.
  • Care staff are following clear handwashing and other hygiene procedures and we have clear procedures in place should we suspect that there is a case of Covid-19 within a home.
  • As many of our service users require frequent orientation due to short-term memory problems because of an acquired brain injury, we are supporting them to wash their hands on a regular basis.
  • All service users are staying within their own home and garden.
  • Care staff rotas are managed so that staff only work within one home and office staff are being redeployed to cover external providers or those self-isolating, so we can minimise the number of different people coming into each home.
  • All non-essential visits to the homes have been suspended.

Community

Creating a feeling of belonging and participation in the local community are among our key principles. Unfortunately, the wealth of community activities in which our service users took part is not possible at the moment. However, each home is a community in itself, with service users and staff creating a family environment. This has never been as important as it is now. We have been so impressed with the staff morale and the way our service users are embracing some of the changes.

Our care support staff, administrators and admissions team are all coming up with creative ideas to keep our service users active, engaged, calm and happy during these difficult times. Activities are wide and varied so that there is plenty to suit everyone. They include: ‘pub quizzes’, bingo, craft activity, yoga, relaxation and meditation, table tennis, football, PE with Joe Wicks, gardening and lunches in the garden. You can find more information about these activities on our social media channels and blog posts over the coming weeks.

Family Support

The families of our service users are naturally concerned, so we have been communicating with them in various ways to demonstrate that life in the homes goes on with minimal disruption. We’re using Whatsapp, Skype, Facetime, emails and letters, sending messages and photos to keep in touch and reassure them. This is some of the feedback we have received.

“Thank you so much for keeping in touch with us all and thank you to all the staff there who are doing a wonderful job keeping things going through this.”

“Thank you so much for passing on our note and for your reassurance.”

“We are living in a difficult time and we hope you and your staff are doing all you can to look after yourselves. My thoughts are with you all.’

We are hugely grateful to our staff and management for their hard work and commitment during this challenging time and we are very proud of them all.


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100% of Respondents Would Recommend Richardson Partnership for Care

We always welcome visits from the family members and friends of the service users in our care. As well as contributing to the service users’ well-being and their family relationships, it also helps to encourage feedback from family members about the care that their loved one is receiving. In addition, we send out an annual questionnaire so that we can formalise the feedback process and identify any changes that are needed. Our service users have acquired brain injuries or learning disabilities, so everyone’s requirements are different, but this process helps us to see the overall picture, identify trends and flag up any issues.

The questionnaires can be anonymous and they are optional, so we may only receive a relatively small number of responses. However, we are very grateful to the family members who complete them. Once again, we have received some very positive feedback and some lovely comments, but we are never complacent. We regularly step back and review our services and are always looking to improve.

We ask all families whether they strongly agree, agree, don’t know or disagree with the following statements:

  1. I am happy with the care provided for my relative
  2. The home has a warm, non-institutional feeling
  3. The home provides an inclusive or family environment
  4. Staff are friendly and approachable
  5. I am regularly updated with information
  6. I feel that my relative is treated with dignity and respect
  7. I feel that their quality of life has improved since they arrived at The Richardson Partnership for Care
  8. I feel that my relative takes part in meaningful and/or enjoyable activities
  9. Would you recommend The Richardson Partnership for Care?

We are pleased that:

100% of respondents said that they would recommend the Richardson Partnership for Care

100% of those who answered said that they strongly agreed or agreed with the statements:
“I am happy with the care provided for my relative”
“The home has a warm, non-institutional feeling”
“Staff are friendly and approachable”
“I feel that my relative is treated with dignity and respect”

89% strongly agreed or agreed with the statement: “The home provides an inclusive or family environment”

And 83% felt that the quality of life of their family member had improved since they arrived at The Richardson Partnership for Care.

All of the 2019 families’ questionnaire results are shown in the graph above.

 

Below are some of the comments from families who completed the questionnaires.

“I know my daughter is safe and cared for with love, respect and kindness, so would recommend the services to everyone…My daughter has been with you a very long time. She loves the staff dearly and has had great support, as have we as a family. I count my daughter to be very lucky to be with you.”


“My son obviously has a very full and happy life. I feel the staff like him and enjoy working with him. They seem well able to cope when he is difficult. Staff seem to stay a long time, which makes for a stable environment.”


“The home maintains adequate standards of care and the carers demonstrate respect and care.”


“Our son is so happy, and to him, you are his family. We wouldn’t want him anywhere else.”

We would like to thank all of the family members who took time to complete the questionnaires.


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The psychology team at The Richardson Partnership for Care plays a crucial role in the care and support of our service users, who have complex needs and acquired brain injuries or learning disabilities. Dr Pedro Areias Grilo, Consultant Clinical Neuropsychologist, heads up the team and is supported by three Assistant Psychologists: Julita Frackowska, Olivia Ferrie and Joseph Szablowski. The Assistant Psychologists are assigned to specific service users according to their needs and the homes in which they live.

Person-centred care
The ethos of the psychology team is the one that runs through the organisation as a whole: the service user is at the centre of everything we do. We are committed to providing individualised care to effectively support the nuanced needs of each service user. We take a person-centred approach and offer interventions to service users based on cognitive behavioural models, dialectical behaviour skills and operant conditioning. All of the interventions offered are evidence-based and follow NICE guidelines.

Psychological reviews
All service users receive an initial psychological review, which includes neuropsychological assessments, a review of clinical presentation, assessment of stability of mood and suggestions for future interventions. This review is then repeated on a regular basis to assess the effectiveness of the therapies and interventions delivered. In addition, we have an ‘open door’ policy at The Richardson Partnership for Care, so all members of the psychology team, and the Assistant Psychologists in particular, can develop close working relationships with the service users. This means that their well-being can be monitored closely on an informal basis and we have found that this helps to maintain their mental health, so any problems can be addressed early, preventing the need for crisis care.

Positive Behaviour Support
Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) is a key part of the psychological support that we provide and an emphasis on positivity is one of our main philosophies. PBS Plans are person-centred and designed with input from the service user to promote positive behaviour. They are supported to set their own goals and to achieve them.

In addition, Pedro and the team are working on an innovative Positive Behaviour Tool to more effectively monitor and encourage positive behaviour. This runs alongside the traditional techniques of reducing negative behaviour.

Multi-Disciplinary Team
The psychology team works closely with the other members of the multi-disciplinary team. (This comprises a consultant neuropsychiatrist, homes managers, service manager, physiotherapist, speech & language therapist and occupational therapist.) Pedro and Consultant Neuropsychiatrist, Dr Seth Mensah, work closely together to balance the use of drug therapies and psychosocial therapies. Where possible, we aim to focus on psychosocial approaches and gradually reduce the reliance on drug therapy to achieve better outcomes for service users over the longer term.


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The Richardson Partnership for Care, The Richardson Mews, Kingsland Gardens, Northampton NN2 7PW

T: 01604 791266.
E: welcome@richardsoncares.co.uk.

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